March 12, 2003
HEALTH DEPARTMENT, LOCAL VETERINARIANS WILL OFFER TWO LOW-COST RABIES VACCINATION OPPORTUNITIES
Charlotte, NC - Seven rabid animals confirmed this early in the year could signal a very busy season for the Health Department and animal control officers. It also means people and pet owners should be absolutely certain their pets' rabies vaccinations are current.
To make that process as easy, convenient and affordable as possible, the Health Department and local veterinarians will offer two low-cost rabies vaccinations twice this year. The first Rabies Vaccination Week is set for May 5-10. A second week of low-cost vaccinations will be offered in November.
This year, 53 local veterinarians will participate in Rabies Vaccination Week, offering rabies shots for just $7.50. Pet owners are asked to call the veterinarian's office first to make an appointment.
Environmental Epidemiology Specialist Al Piercy handles rabies and animal bite investigations for the Mecklenburg County Health Department. Piercy says it is unusual to see so many rabid animals this early in the season.
"We usually see just one or two a month at this point," says Piercy. "Two cases were confirmed just yesterday."
So far this year, there have been seven cases of rabies confirmed in six raccoons and one fox. Last year there were 27 cases total.
Rabies can infect any mammal. In North Carolina it is most common in raccoons, skunks, and foxes, and has also been found in dogs, cats, horses, cattle, bats, and other animals. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of animals found to have rabies in North Carolina.
The virus is transmitted through contact with the saliva or nervous tissue of an infectious animal--usually through a bite. If an exposed person or animal is not treated quickly, the virus may infect the person or animal and kill them.